It’s reasonable to assume you cannot get a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Arizona if you aren’t driving. After all, the nature of the charge is in the name; if you aren’t driving, how could you possibly be “driving under the influence”? It may be difficult to believe but, in Arizona, police can (and do) make arrests for DUI even if the person isn’t operating a motor vehicle. Learn how this is possible and what you can do if you’re facing this criminal charge.
The Fine Print of Arizona’s DUI Laws
Arizona has very strict DUI laws and penalties, with zero tolerance for anyone who drives while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Arizona Revised Statutes Title 28-1381 explains the state’s laws. The exact language is as follows: “It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state…” It is the physical control of the vehicle portion that can lead to a DUI arrest even if the person isn’t technically driving.
Authorities in Arizona can arrest someone for alleged DUI even if the vehicle is parked, not moving, and does not have the key in the ignition. If you have been drinking alcohol or using any kind of drug – illegal or prescription – and fall asleep in your car, you are at risk of a DUI charge. It doesn’t matter if you were or were not driving, if you planned on driving, or if it’s even your car. Being inside a vehicle – and thus in “physical control” of it – while impaired, is enough to qualify you for DUI under the language of Arizona’s statute.
What to Do About This Type of Charge
Finding yourself with a DUI when you chose not to drive impaired can feel like a cruel twist of fate. Unfortunately, police are within their legal rights to make an arrest if they find you in your vehicle while under the influence, regardless of the question of driving. If you’re facing this type of DUI charge in Arizona, here’s what to do:
- Stay silent. Comply with the officer’s directions, and do not answer any questions until you have an attorney present. DUIs are tricky charges to fight, and police can use anything you say against you later. Answering questions about whether you’ve been drinking or are on drugs can result in an arrest, regardless of whether you’ve been driving.
- Call an attorney. As soon as you have the opportunity, call a DUI defense attorney. An attorney will advocate for you and give you tailored advice according to your exact situation. Contact The Law Offices of John Phebus from jail if necessary. Politely tell the police you refuse to answer any questions until you have a lawyer present.
- Fight the charge. One way to fight a DUI, APC (Actual Physical Control) charge is to show that you never planned to drive the vehicle.
The success of a DUI defense will depend on the circumstances. For example, sleeping in your car in the driveway because you lost your keys will have a better chance with this defense than if you’re parked at a fast food drive-thru. A great Glendale DUI attorney will significantly help during the defense process in Arizona.